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Reconstituted Socialist Party of Great Britain (1991) - Article - Don’t Blame the Workers

It is easy to become frustrated at the slow progress of socialist development and blame the working class. It is true that most workers presently show little political interest in socialist ideas and are content to periodically vote for the retention of wage slavery and class exploitation. Acting against their own class interests, workers vote for political leaders, well-meaning or not.

Few workers have time for political engagement. A midwife working a twelve hour shift just wants to come home and go to bed for twelve hours (www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/news/12-hour-shifts-friend-or-foe)’ Raising children – future wage-slaves- is time consuming and leaves little time for politics. Even students are pressurised into long hours of study to meet the demands of the job market. To carve out time for socialist political activity is difficult but not impossible.

It takes great effort and sacrifice to take part in socialist politics. And when socialists do discuss socialism with family, friends and work colleagues the time allowed to get across a socialist idea or to explain what socialism means – or does not mean – is limited to minutes.

It is very easy to become dispirited and cynical. However, the transmission of the case for socialism and dissemination of socialist ideas does not depend on the work of a few socialists scattered across the world.

Capitalism causes the class struggle between capitalists and workers; employers and employees. Capitalists exploit workers and workers have to resist.

Moreover, capitalism creates socialists: it creates dissent, questioning and socialist politics. Socialist ideas persist from one generation of the working class to the next because capitalism creates social and economic problems which face the working class on a day-to-day basis; unemployment, poverty and war.

These social and economic problems are immune from social reforms and the actions of capitalist politicians and governments. Socialism is always and everywhere a practical and reasonable alternative to the failure of capitalism.

And then there is the monolithic capitalist media which drowns the working class in pro-capitalist and anti-socialist propaganda on a daily basis. Pro-capitalist bias in the media unites journalists at the NEW YORKER and FINANCIAL TIMES with journalists on the NATIONAL ENQUIRER and the SUN. It makes no difference now that the web allows billions to produce their own media when the internet platforms like the BBC with its millions of hits are essentially pro-capitalist and pro-market.

The other problem facing socialists is the failure of what is perceived to be socialism; the “socialism” of the former Soviet Union and the failure of the pre- Blair “Socialist” Labour Party. And Socialism is still a contested term with dozens of web sites describing themselves as socialist pumping out propaganda for the discredited ideas of Lenin and Trotsky, on the one hand, and Jeremy Corbyn on the other.

It is all a political mess and it is quite understandable that many workers are confused, disinterested and turned-off by politics, socialist or otherwise. However it is not the fault of workers. Workers are not to blame.

In fact, to blame non-socialist workers with for the reason why the socialist movement is currently running at a trickle is to bring in a moralising element to socialist propaganda which should not be there. If the current political atmosphere is so anti-socialist as a result of the Bolsheviks and their supporters, the Labour Party and the capitalist media, why blame the working class?

It is a truism that socialists exist to make more socialists. World socialism can only be established consciously and politically by a world-wide socialist majority. This is hard and repetitive work. After all, it is a political class struggle. And we are up against a very artful media and clever politicians who are astute at dividing the working class against itself, whether it be over the question of age, gender, sexuality and ‘welfare benefits’.

Taking a historical view of working class development, we can be positive and optimistic. Over the last three centuries of class struggle the working class has been able to establish trade unions and a socialist party around a set of socialist principles and a socialist object. It is the normal working of capitalism which makes workers interested in socialist ideas although not enough in number to politically worry those who politically look after and further the interests of the capitalist class.

However, out time will come. Capitalism will not leave the working class alone; workers will eventually have to learn from past mistakes. Socialists should be optimistic about the future and not go down the dead-end politics of blaming the working class.

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